I signed up for the Bruny Island trail run about six weeks ago because I felt like I needed a goal. I was getting a bit antsy and I know that self-medicating my listlessness with an athletic challenge is a good cure. That’s how I am. When I am in a funk, a goal helps keep my focus on what’s more immediate because a training plan requires daily check-ins to make sure I’m still on target. I like setting my sights on something that requires discipline and since I have never run 17.5 kilometers before, that sounded like an appropriate distance to work towards. Plus I figured that our current access to a plethora of mountain trails just minutes from our door was something I ought to take advantage of.
The only problem is that I don’t actually like running. It’s hard and boring and uncomfortable. But trail running is a different story and it wasn’t until I started training for this run did I change my tune about going out for a morning jog. With a road run I typically leave my house with an estimate of how long I’ll run for and the majority of my thoughts while running are consumed by a mental countdown until it’s all over. But trail running demands focus on what’s right in front of me. If I misstep, I’ll roll my ankle. If I lose concentration, I’ll get lost. And when I stop to catch my breath, I am rewarded with stunning Tasmanian beauty. It’s more work, for sure, but so much more satisfying!
I set out on Sunday morning with minimal expectations about a time or pace. That’s not what this was about. My longest run to date was about an hour and a half. If I could keep a steady, consistent pace for 17.5K (which would surely take me longer than 1.5 hours) I would be happy. And I did! Two hours and ten minutes feeling strong. The trail was very technical and indeed if I let me mind wander towards our plans for Hawaii next month or what I’m going to do for work back in the US, I stumbled. The run was a test and a necessary reminder: keep my eyes on what’s right in front of me and I’ll fly through it with a smile.